Originally published September 10, 2013. Every story has pretty much been told. When it comes to supernatural horror, every concept and image has been exhausted. What sets the effective entries apart from the lot comes down to the filmmaker’s personal sensibility he injects into the material. James Wan’s The Conjuring doesn’t break any new ground yet I found myself invested in the family and fearing for their lives. That personal immersion made Wan’s first-rate theatrics all the scarier. Oculus, Co-Writer/Director Mike Flanagan’s follow-up to the impressive Absentia contains all those attributes…and more. READ MORE
Lucky McKee (The Woman, May) and The Lost director Chris Sivertson’s hotly anticipated All Cheerleaders Die has been picked up by Image Entertainment for US distribution so us stateside folk will be able to see these cheerleaders bite it pretty soon.
The film is “about a rebel girl whom signs up a group of cheerleaders to help her take down the captain of their high school football team, when a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different battle.” You can read Mike’s review out of TIFF here.
No word on a release date but of course we’ll update you when one is announced. READ MORE
Mike Pereira turns in his final review out of the Toronto International Film Festival, raving out Zack Parker’s Proxy, a pretty harsh horror drama about a woman who copes with the loss of her unborn child.
“It unapologetically aims for the audience’s throat and doesn’t waste any time in doing so,” says Mike in his rave review. “This is one deliciously perverse thriller. Parker unflinchingly rifles through one shocking twist after another, daring its audience to walk out of the theater in disgust.
He adds: “Proud and fully aware, Proxy is a joyfully trashy, sinful slice of macabre entertainment.”
Click either link above for the entire review. READ MORE
I have an affinity towards movies unafraid to revel in dark, seedy territory especially when they place a magnifying glass against flawed, often disturbed people making very flawed and fatal decisions. There’s something compelling, tragic and incredibly tension-filled about tales of human frailty. Greats such as Fargo, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and Killer Joe are perfect examples on how it’s done to maximum effect. Co-Writer/Director Zack Parker’s Proxy is the latest and it’s a doozy. It unapologetically aims for the audience’s throat and doesn’t waste any time in doing so.
Proxy deals with Esther Woodhouse (Alexia Rasmussen), a pregnant woman who out of the blue is brutally attacked by an unknown assailant. This traumatic event leads her to a support group where she befriends another “scarred” woman (Alexa Havins). From this point on, things spiral to unimaginable, batshit crazy heights. This is as far as I’ll go. Proxy is one of those films best experienced with the least amount of prior knowledge. That’s how I went into it. The movie starts off on a serious vein. It hits its first disturbing blow by the second scene and keeps you uneasy for the remainder of its duration. The tone in Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s non-stop fright-fest, Inside aka À l’intérieur comes to mind. As the plot begins to steer in unexpected directions, Proxy begins to reveal its darkly humorous side.
The cast plays the Bish material without a wink. A lot of it comes across as kind of hammy yet I found it did right by the tone. The straight-faced conviction really brings out the sick humor. Joe Swanberg as Patrick Michaels (You’re Next, The Sacrament) is amusing as always. Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween) stands out from the crowd as Esther’s amusingly aggressive girlfriend, Anika Barön. She is obviously having a blast with the character. As the humor becomes more prevalent, the more enjoyable she gets. Klebe delivers of the year’s standout performances. The only issue acting-wise stems from the weak supporting players. The stiffness of these performers can distract on occasion. These cast members generally disappear after a scene but the film does have its share of them. Strangely this reoccurring thing endeared me more to the movie.
Proxy takes on a straightforward, no-nonsense approach to the cinematography. It was shot in the 2.35 :1 aspect ratio which lends itself well to this type of clean, wide imagery. Parker unexpectedly goes stylized for one pivotal sequence in which he uses the Phantom high-speed camera for ultra-dramatic effect. The use of slo-mo nods to the works of Brian De Palma, as well as Lars Von Trier’s haunting opener inAntichrist. A lot of viewers will be turned off by the often over-lit, flat environments yet it does lend the world a reality that might not have been achieved if they went the other direction. It’s debatable. Proxy’s classy Bernard Herrmannesque score is perfectly in sync with Parker’s melodrama. Also responsible for Oculus’ soundtrack, composing duo The Newton Brothers have created two of the finer genre scores of 2013.
This is one deliciously perverse thriller. Parker unflinchingly rifles through one shocking twist after another, daring its audience to walk out of the theater in disgust. If one unexpected plot point doesn’t revolt you enough, there is another one waiting in the wing, more than eager to try. By conventional wisdom, Proxy is a bad picture. I wouldn’t argue with anyone that despises it because the criticisms can be valid. Considering I adore such sordid affairs as John McNaughton’s Wild Things and De Palma’s Body Double, Proxy totally spoke to me. Those films’ success (at least for me) stems from its handling of tone. What keeps them from ever becoming mean-spirited (a huge feat) is their over-the-top approach. The dark humor is always bubbling within the surface. The viewer is allowed to have fun at the characters’ expense and the ridiculousness of the situation. Proud and fully aware, Proxy is a joyfully trashy, sinful slice of macabre entertainment.
I’ve always admired Asian cinema for its bold enthusiasm. These films always go for it with vigor, never once fearing failure. The visuals are filled with insane originality. Asian productions do a great job of mixing up horror and comedy, milking melodrama to the umpth degree. When it works as a cohesive unit, the results are riveting. This is also the case with their genre work which include greats such as the Ju-On: The Grudge films, The Host, Audition and the criminally underseen horror/comedy Rahtree: Flower of the Night (well, at least in North America. It spawned three sequels). Rigor Mortis is the latest entry. It’s inspired by the Hong Kong vampire horror/comedies of the 80’s, most notably the zany Mr. Vampire and its four sequels. So much so that some of the talent from that cult series can be found here.
An out of work actor, mourning the loss of his wife and child checks in at an old creepy public housing complex which happens to be inhabited by all sorts of unsavory supernatural entities. Rigor Mortis is as much a somber, character-driven tale of redemption as it is a horror film. All of the characters have their demons and hurting internally. Co-Writer/Director Juno Mak is assisted by the moving performances from his ensemble. They successfully ground the picture which could have easily been overwhelmed by its more eccentric qualities. While Rigor Mortis nods to its influences, Mak’s vision is much darker, more menacing than any of those earlier movies.
When it comes to craftsmanship, Rigor Mortis is without fault. The cinematography is consistently ace. Every shot has been beautifully composed. The visual effects are also quite effective. These elements are showcased during Rigor Mortis’ epic third act which is loaded with some slick, imaginative action beats. This is the kind of stuff Hong Kong cinema does particularly well. Their fearless sensibility is without equal. If only more Hollywood genre pictures would display such high levels of creativity. I admire Mak for taking his time developing this unique universe and the characters that inhabit it. They all have rich arcs that pay off by the end. Quirky humor is nicely infused throughout the build-up. This offsets the viewer, making the story’s darker aspects that much more jolting. Ultimately Rigor Mortis’ strengths is undone by its plodding pace. It drains the life out of the picture. The leisure manner in which the film unravels grows increasingly tedious. Things do pick up during the wild finale but by that point the damage has already been done.
It’s amazing how a film can seemingly have all of the ingredients that make up an engaging piece of entertainment yet still manage to falter. Mak spends just too much of Rigor Mortis’ running time meandering that not even a top-notch finish and good performances could reel me back in. I like a lot of what I saw throughout this picture but the atmospheric build-up sucked the energy out of the picture for me. While Rigor Mortis didn’t work enough for me as a whole, there will certainly be admirers especially fans of offbeat Hong Kong genre cinema that these filmmakers were so obviously influenced by.
IFC has bought North American rights to Joe Begos’ Almost Human following its world premiere in the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto film Festival, Variety reports.
The film, written and directed by Begos, stars Graham Skipper, Vanessa Leigh and Josh Ethier and was produced by Begos and Ethier of Channel 83 Films and Anthony Ambrosino of Ambrosino/Delmenico Films.
The film, which will also play at this year’s Fantastic Fest and Sitges Film Festival, is set in a quiet rural town in Maine beset by axe murders and alien abduction.
The production was a collaboration by Begos and his longtime best friend Ethier. Begos was the director, writer, producer and cinematographer; Ethier was a producer, editor, sound designer and a lead actor. READ MORE
While the reviews of Metallica: Through the Never have been pretty solid, the concensus seems to be that the film’s wrap, directed by Predators helmer Nimrod Antal, is weak sauce.
Mike Pereira caught a premiere screening at last week’s Toronto International Film Festival, and reports back with some good news, and some bad news. Basically, it’s solely for hardcore fans (that’s okay with me!).
“Metallica: Through the Never is a celebration of the binding bond between the band and its loyal fan-base,” says Mike in his review. “It’s made for the fans by a fan. Antal has successfully captured what it means to be a Metallica fan as well as given us a damn fine concert film to boot. If you love the band then there’s simply no excuse why you shouldn’t go run out to see this and in the best cinema around.”
The wrap follows Trip, a young roadie for Metallica, who is sent on an urgent mission during the band’s show. But what seems like a simple assignment turns into a surreal adventure. READ MORE
For as long as I can remember, Metallica’s music has been a part of my life. Their impact was at its peak all throughout my high school years. Like many fans will attest, their music and lyrics has a way of speaking directly to the listener on a personal level. Being a bit of an outsider, I was hooked. As unpopular as it may be to admit, I’ve always admired their adventurous side. No matter the ridicule they’ve been bombarded with, the band has always stayed true to themselves. The risk-taking took an all-time high with 2011’s brutally lambasted Lulu, their collaboration with Lou Reed. There’s no other mainstream act that’s dared to take on as may risks as Metallica has. Their documentaries exposed their frailties most artists would never dream of presenting. With all that baggage, most acts would’ve lost their fan-base. Cut to the present; Metallica is still standing strong. Their latest venture, Metallica Through the Never proudly celebrates that.
It’s an unusual hybrid of concert film and narrative. Not since Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker has a major recording artist approached film in such an out-there manner. Set against a backdrop of a Metallica concert, Trip, a young roadie (Dane DeHaan) is sent on an increasingly surreal and hellacious mission to retrieve a mysterious item for the band. The extremely loose plot feels more like an extended music video than anything else. I really dug the setup which creates a perception of Metallica as almost mythological figures, a worshipping fan’s perspective. The larger-than-life imagery (not to mention the native-shot 3D) helps support this cinematically. There are underlining themes that are nicely mirrored with whatever Metallica track the band is performing. Unfortunately the trivial storyline doesn’t really go anywhere significant. Thankfully in the reliable hands of Director Nimród Antal’s (Predators, Vacancy), this surreal adventure is always stylishly attractive to look at and doesn’t bog down the pace too much. Another plus is DeHaan’s completely convincing role as a Metallica fan. Despite the underwritten part, he gives it his full commitment. The unique connection between the band and its fans is perfectly embodied within his performance. If you have any personal connection to the themes being explored in Metallica Through the Never, DeHaan is probably the reason why.
In Antal’s hands, the 3D is never used as an intrusive gimmick. It’s there to draw you in, getting you closer to the Metallica live experience than ever before. He avoids pop-out gags and for the most part, keeping the camera wide to create a fine sense of depth. This is true with both the concert footage and the fictional story. Metallica Through the Never’s gorgeous opening aerial shot is about as good of a tone-setter as you can ever hope for. I also appreciated Antal’s approach to editing. He doesn’t bombard you with cuts, fully aware how it might disorientate the viewer. Images are allowed to linger on which brings out the advantages of 3D technology all the more. If only more filmmakers would use this as a model.
As for the concert itself, the band is in mighty top form. Having the opportunity of seeing the band live on a couple of occasions, it captures the Metallica live experience perfectly. Fans will get a kick out of the ways in which the World Magnetic stage design has been amped up for cinematic effect. There are even some points in which both worlds uniquely meld together. Considering we’re dealing with Metallica, the sound doesn’t disappoint…in fact, it’s damn epic! I had the pleasure of watching this in IMAX and it’s thunderously loud and ass-kicking. It only helps to enhance the imagery all the more. Metallica live has never been better represented than it does here.
There’s not much in the way of appeal for anyone not already converted. If you’re looking for something revealing along the same lines as documentaries Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica, this is not it. First and foremost, Metallica Through the Never is a celebration of the binding bond between the band and its loyal fan-base. It’s made for the fans by a fan. Antal has successfully captured what it means to be a Metallica fan as well as given us a damn fine concert film to boot. If you love the band then there’s simply no excuse why you shouldn’t go run out to see this and in the best cinema around.
I’m a pretty huge fan of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Amer, a giallo-inspired slasher that was well received in the festival circuit. The duo is back again with The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, which played at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival. While the buzz was pretty strong, the teaser and available imagery sort of looked like they hadn’t done anything new. Our interview with Cattet and Forzani proved Strange Colour was yet another giollo story, this time from another sex’s perspective – something I found quite interesting. Unfortunately, Mike Pereira comes out of the fest with an extremely negative review, basically calling it out…
“On the surface it sounds like vintage giallo but the plot is soon caught up in needless, incoherence (huge understatement),” he says in his review. “It took me right out of the picture.
“This is pretentious with a capital P,” he adds before giving this heavy warning: “If you’ve managed to go through your entire life not viewing a single giallo, this is the last place to start. I’d say avoid like the plague. It would scare off anyone who’d ever had the remote interest of seeing one.”
Even though Mike hated the movie, he does give props to Cattet and Forzani for their filmmaking ability: “It successfully captures the audio/visual beauty of those films [giallo] and that’s about it,” he explains. “[They] are obviously super-talented which makes this nonsense all the more frustrating.” READ MORE
Mike Pereira continues his ten year anniversary of covering the Toronto International Film Festival with a review of Joe Begos’ highly ambitious, Almost Human, which harks backs to classic effects-heavy creature features like John Carpenter’s The Thing. Apparently, this is one of the film’s issues.
Mike explains in his review that Begos and company could have tried to be a little different in their homage to the 1980′s. “As entertaining as I found Almost Human to be, it seems merely content to replicate the source without ever attempting to take it somewhere fresh. There isn’t a moment here that wasn’t inspired from something else,” he explains stating that it sort of felt more like a short than a feature. “Despite these setbacks, I find just enough here to recommend. If you dig the trailer and cheesy 80’s sci-fi horror is your thing, this flick’s for you. It preyed on my nostalgia of a time I will forever cherish. Armed with The Dude Designs’ awesome cover art (below), Almost Human would make a fine VHS rental.”
While it sounds like the film doesn’t quite hit its mark, Mike does make it sound like it would be a super fun weekend rental with your friends. READ MORE
The Italian-born giallo thriller is the perfect embodiment of everything I adore about the cinema. In this world, style reigns supreme. Characteristics include a murder mystery element, brutal violence, dreamlike visuals, and an elaborate soundtrack. The antagonist’s identity (including sex) is concealed by a black hat, gloves and trench coat. That’ll all be revealed in the third act. Iconic giallos include such titles as Blood and Black Lace, Don’t Torture a Duckling, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red and Tenebre. In 2009, filmmaking duo Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani brought us an ode to the genre with the cult favorite, Amer. For their sophomore feature, they’ve returned to this inspiration with The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears. The title alone is enough to elicit excitement out of long-time fans. I was going into this hoping for a continuation of this revival. Alas, it actually could do the exact opposite.
The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears is about a husband who comes home to discover that his wife has gone missing. He and detective begin investigating the apartment building only to find out that the place and its residents have their fair share of secrets. The cast look like they were photo-shopped right out of those films. They’re perfectly in tune to the filmmakers’ vision. The cinematography is flat-out gorgeous. Every shot, every lighting scheme has been meticulously devised. The artistry on display is without question. The terrific soundtrack is compiled from other films of that era. It syncs perfectly with the imagery and helps to create the feel of the genre. I also adored the expertly-crafted sound design. It’s every bit as stylized as the visuals themselves. This is A/V craftsmanship of the highest calibre.
On the surface it sounds like vintage giallo but the plot is soon caught up in needless, incoherence (huge understatement). It took me right out of the picture. If you look real hard, you’ll see the workings of a semi-coherent story within all the babble. Worse; there are sequences that go on endlessly with a motif not unlike a music video. The dream within a dream thing will test viewer’s patience like never before. The filmmakers push this so hard to a point where I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud. This breaking point happens during the half way mark and consumed me (and some other folks) for the rest of the duration. It’s been awhile since I couldn’t contain myself during a theatrical screening. Unfortunately this isn’t intentional. I was amused for all the wrong reasons. This is pretentious with a capital P. While I’m more than sure there are audiences who appreciate what The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears sets out to do, personally I can’t get involved in a mystery where a) I have no idea what the hell is going on and b) I don’t care whatsoever what happens to the characters. All of this seems like a waste to me if I’m not invested in what’s underneath all of the showboating.
If you’ve managed to go through your entire life not viewing a single giallo, this is the last place to start. I’d say avoid like the plague. It would scare off anyone who’d ever had the remote interest of seeing one. It successfully captures the audio/visual beauty of those films and that’s about it. The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears is an immense disappoint. I have a fondness for art-house pictures but this doesn’t do them any service. It plays out like a parody and contains all the things that give them a bad rap. The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears is an arrogant, incoherent piece of drivel. Cattet and Forzani are obviously super-talented which makes this nonsense all the more frustrating.
Over two decades have passed and still, this generation is inspired by the 80’s, the stuff of my youth. The VHS subculture and old-school poster designs seem more predominate than it’s been in years. Technology has made huge leaps yet artists still go out of their way to recreate the lower grade appearance I grew up on. It speaks volumes on the depressing state of modern day entertainment that filmmakers and musicians just don’t find any inspiration by the works of their contemporaries. Writer/Director Joe Begos’ Almost Human is the latest that’s soaked in 80’s influence.
Two years have gone by since the disappearance of Seth Hampton’s best friend, Mark Fisher via a strange blue light from the sky. All of a sudden a series of vicious murders begin to occur that leads him to believe Mark is back…well, at least his physical form. The premise follows the sci-fi/horror tradition seen in such classics as The Terminator, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and a personal fav, The Hidden. This is not the kind of film you gauge the acting. It’s at the level you’d expect from a title such as this. The cast serves the material well enough. Graham Skipper (Herbert West from the Re-Animator: The Musical) is likeable as our lead protagonist and Josh Ethier plays the cyborg-like villain more than efficiently.
Begos shows potential in his directorial debut. He clearly has affection for the sci-fi, horror B pictures of the 80’s. Every decision he makes is a loving nod in some shape or form. The opening title sequence uses the same font found in John Carpenter’s Escape From New York. The movie’s title card is absolutely killer. For a low budgeter, Almost Human is surprisingly well-made. Shot on the Red MX, the filmmakers do a fine job of replicating the look of the era of influence. It utilizes the 2.35:1 aspect ratio to good effect. The score by Adam Green’s go-to guy Andy Garfield captured the mood spot-on. The soundtrack is a great mix of Carpenter-esque synth and orchestral.
As for issues, I got the feeling certain moments especially in the third act have been padded in order to get the film to hit the 80 minute mark. The clearly dragged out end credit roll is another indicator that there wasn’t enough material for a feature-length. As entertaining as I found Almost Human to be, it seems merely content to replicate the source without ever attempting to take it somewhere fresh. There isn’t a moment here that wasn’t inspired from something else. Astron-6, more specifically the works of the brilliant Steven Kostanski (long live Manborg) show that you can pay homage to your idols yet at the same time create something insane and new.
Almost Human is yet another feature that would have made a better short. It’s not like I was bored with the movie. With a straight face, Begos successfully captures the 80’s unpretentious charm . I just feel he did a disservice to his own material by attempting to extend it into something that it’s clearly not. Despite these setbacks, I find just enough here to recommend. If you dig the trailer and cheesy 80’s sci-fi horror is your thing, this flick’s for you. It preyed on my nostalgia of a time I will forever cherish. Armed with The Dude Designs’ awesome cover art, Almost Human would make a fine VHS rental.
Relativity is in final negotiations to partner with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Prods. to buy Oculus at the Toronto International Film Festival, Variety is reporting.
The deal was announced four days after Oculus world premiered in the Midnight Madness section at Toronto.
Relativity said it plans a wide release but has not set the date.
The film was directed by Mike Flanagan from a script he wrote with Jeff Howard, based on the short film that Flanagan and Jeff Seidman created in 2005.
“It is centered on a cursed 300-year-old mirror with a brother and sister (Thwaits and Gillan) finding the cause of their parents’ deaths — a mirror which has caused destruction in over its 300-year history.” READ MORE
Proxy made its world premiere Sept. 10 in the Vanguard section of the Toronto International Film Festival and will play next at the 2013 Fantastic Fest. IFC Midnight is planning a theatrical and VOD day-and-date release for the film.
Alexia Rasmussen, Alexa Havins, Kristina Klebe and Joe Swanberg star in the film, which “centers on a pregnant young woman who seeks consolation in a support group after she is viciously attacked by a hooded assailant. Gradually she comes to realize that nothing and no one in her life are as they appear.”
Proxy was produced by Parker and Faust Checho and executive produced by Mike Khamis. READ MORE
To be honest, I’ve grown exasperated with the whole found footage sub-genre. Don’t get me wrong, there are entries I really dig like The Blair Witch Project, the [Rec] and V/H/S series, as well as a couple from the Paranormal Activity franchise (1 and 3). But like any trend, there’s a point where it gets oversaturated and found footage has definitely passed that point. Writer/Director duo Derek Lee and Clif Prowse are latest to hit the genre’s current fad with their feature debut, Afflicted.
The story is about two best friends that go on a life-changing trip around the world only to find it take an unexpected, dark turn that finds one of them afflicted with a mysterious disease. Thus begins a venture to seek the source of the curse. Lee and Prowse are not only the creative force behind Afflicted but they are the leads as well. Their acting gets the job done…well, until things get serious. Lee and Prowse falter whenever they’re required to reveal the limitations of their chops in the drama department.
There are aspects here that remind me of Chronicle and the V/H/S entry, Amateur Night but to their credit Lee and Prowse give us a neat enough spin on vampires to set it apart from the pack. Like most found footage films, they hit a snag whenever they have to explain why the camera is still rolling especially in the film’s second half. There are moments where a character groaningly tries to justify his reasons to continue on filming. This is especially true following a pivotal moment in which Afflicted shifts direction. It’s during that key spin of events where the film begins to run out of tracks. The plot is just not strong enough to sustain as a feature. The script is lightweight and doesn’t really take us anywhere new.
Hands down, Afflicted’s strongest attribute is its well-devised action set-pieces and FX work. The chase sequences are very creative. There are many bits where you’ll be scratching your head, wondering how a particular shot was executed. The film wowed me with its high-level craftsmanship. It’s the main reason why you’d see Afflicted.
I really wanted to enjoy this film especially since it’s a Canadian genre picture and being a Canadian, I want to support my own. Aside from being undeniably impressive on the technical side, I just found myself disinterested through most of Afflicted…and it only runs 85 minutes long. There’s not enough material here to justify its running time. I think Afflicted would have made a solid 20 minute short. At its conclusion (hardly one to begin with), the filmmakers even attempt to leave the doors open for a potential sequel which is ironic since it doesn’t really hold together on its own.
Open Road, who passed on releasing Oculs (review here), is taking a bite out of Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno, says THR. The distributor, who also released the Roth-produced The Last Exorcism Part 2, nabbed U.S. rights to the gory cannibal movie, which is expected to get a wide release.
The film, produced and financed by Worldview Entertainment, is an homage to the notorious Italian cannibal movies of the late ’70s and early ’80s. It premiered worldwide on September 7 in the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto Film Festival.
“Set deep in the heart of the Amazon, The Green Inferno follows a group of student activists who travel to visit a dying tribe. When their plane crashes, they are taken hostage by the very natives they came to observe. Roth co-wrote the screenplay with Guillermo Amoedo.” READ MORE
Heading into its premiere limping, it looked as if there was something wrong with Mike Flanagan’s Oculus. The reports out of the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival were that the producers and distributor FilmDistrict had parted ways, leaving this found-footage horror seeking a new distributor. With FilmDistrict being on the forefront of genre films, it gave the appearance that Oculus may be a bad movie.
Holy hell it’s not, at least says Bloody Disgusting’s Mike Pereira, as well as the intense buzz out of the Toronto fest. In fact, Mike tells me that Oculus, starring Karen Gillan, Katee Sackhoff, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, and Garrett Ryan, could end up being the best horror movie he sees this year!
“The experience of watching Oculus is that of being caught in an unrelenting nightmare you just can’t wake up from,” says Mike in his review.
He adds, “It’s uncharted territory when the audience has no clue where the film will go from edit to edit. It’s a revolutionary way in which to play out a horror set-piece.
“[It's] best horror film I’ve seen in some time.”
Click the aforementioned link for the entire review! READ MORE
Mike Pereira continues to ravage through this year’s Toronto International Film Festival titles, this time relishing The Sacrament, from genre fav Ti West (The Roost, The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, V/H/S).
“The Sacrament might very well be West’s finest work to date. His growth as a filmmaker hits new peaks,” says Mike in his review of the found-footage docu-style horror movie set it a Jonestown type cult where we watch a mass suicide begin and the filmmakers are trapped inside.
“The Sacrament is more of a psychological thriller than anything else,” he continues. “This is real life horror with an antagonist more monstrous than any made up one. This is a figure cut right out of the headlines.”
He adds: “It crawls under your skin and stays there long after it’s over.”
Click any above link for the entire review. Watch for acquisition news soon!
While everyone always thinks it’s a PR stunt, when an audience member is affected by a genre movie at a film festival, it’s real. From my own experience at least…
THR writes that Afflicted, a found-footage take on the vampire genre, tapped into the Midnight Madness vein Monday night with a world premiere that had audiences jumping out of their seats.
In fact, Afflicted can take the prize for being so intense that one young man became woozy, hyperventilating as he stumbled out of the screening and barely managing to make it to a bench to get himself together, says the site.
All good signs for the debut of Canadian filmmakers Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, who wrote, star in and directed the micro-budget “vampire documentary” about two friends traveling through Europe. Their trip of a lifetime veers into the horror zone when one of them is bitten and gets sicker and sicker.
The movie, already picked up domestically by CBS Films, is said to have shades of Paranormal Activity, [REC] and Chronicle, and offer effective scares.
The movie now heads for its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest, the Austin-based genre film festival that runs Sept. 19-26. READ MORE
For the second time at the Toronto Film Festival, A24 has struck a deal for a star vehicle as the upstart distributor behind Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring and The Spectacular Now has acquired U.S. rights to the Scarlett Johansson starrer Under the Skin, writes THR.
Jonathan Glazer directed the sci-fi thriller about a voracious alien seductress (Johansson) who scours remote highways and backroads for human prey. Walter Campbell wrote the screenplay.
Nick Wechsler and James Wilson produced Under the Skin, which made its Toronto debut late Monday night. READ MORE
Updated 8:45AM PST: I’ve been going to the Toronto International Film Festival for several years now (my absolute favorite festival I’ve ever attended), and each year I deal with the problem of cell phone in press & industry screenings (it’s allowed, apparently?). While the festival does nothing about it (industry folk need their phones to work during the movie, even though it’s the journalist’s job to pay close attention…), I personally have brought it to the attention of various festival heads on numerous occasions. The worst, though, is when a buyer decides to sit in the front row, lighting up the entire theater behind them. Some of these people come with extreme entitlement – in fact, one year I was threatened by a buyer (allegedly the same one who caused this stir) for nicely asking if he’d switch rows with me, so I could sit in front of him. Yup, this is a real problem.
One person tormented by the same issue is Alex Billington, founder of Firstshowing.net. Each year, the two of us sit in misery trying to find new ways to deal with the problem. This time, he got the last laugh (and I missed it!). His response has caused a major stir, partially because he called 911, instead of a emergency number…
Apparently, during a press & industry screening of Ti West’s presumably amazing The Sacrament, Billington called 911, stating that a selfish jerk using his cell phone was pirating the movie (I’m being told that Billington acknowledges that he should have called local police instead of 911, which is reserved for real emergencies – in any case, this was a bold decision). Slick move, brother! The call caused a huge disruption and has now caused a ripple through the press (with some focusing solely on Billington’s 911 call, instead of the issue of cell phones in theaters). Hopefully, this will bring some awareness to the festival that something needs to be done. (I personally have suggested that the festival allow the last two rows to be for industry; there they could use their phones all they want, without any distraction.)
Below are a few Tweets that got the ball rolling, but you can read both sides of the argument here. Clearly, Billington should not have been calling 911, which he acknowledges, but a local emergency number. Looking beyond the call, there is a serious problem here that needs to be addressed. If the Alamo Drafthouse can adopt a zero policy, why can’t a major festival, or even other theater chains? A source inside told me, “It’s just too dangerous for the volunteers.”
More inside. Tell us your thoughts below… READ MORE
I’ve been a fan of Writer/Director Ti West ever since Mr. Disgusting led me to his debut, The Roost. I was hooked right away. Call it slow burn or whatever you like but what I’ve always appreciated about West’s work is his commitment to building tension. He’s been criticized for taking too long to get to the “good stuff” but that’s the very thing that sets his work apart from everyone else’s. I can always confidently go into a Ti West film and know I’m getting his unique take on a particular story. They’re his films through and through. It’s an acquired taste I’ve personally been always drawn to. His growth as a filmmaker hits new peaks with his latest, The Sacrament.
It’s about a couple of journalists who document a man’s search for his missing sister which leads them to a remote, isolated community lead by a mysterious figure known simply as Father. The population is largely made up of people with troubled pasts. At first the documentarians are impressed with this peaceful utopia. They soon discover something sinister and disturbing hiding behind the seemingly lovely facade. The similarity to the Jonestown Massacre isn’t an accident. It was one of the things that drew West to this particular story. The Sacrament utilizes a documentary approach. It assists at grounding the story in reality, as well as a clever way of having us experience the chain of events along with the characters. We only bear witness to whatever their camera records. In other words, certain plot details may be left unanswered. Horror films are generally scarier when certain aspects are left to the imagination. On occasion, it gets a tad contrived as to why the camera is still rolling especially during the third act. Plus, I swear there were a few angles popping up which had me wondering if there was another camera operator I was unaware of. Other than that, this storytelling device worked for me.
The Sacrament stars A.J. Bowen, Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg, who you may recognize from Adam Wingard’s You’re Next and A Horrible Way To Die. As always, Seimetz is completely convincing as the sister, a woman who’s traded one addiction for another. I’m certain Bowen and Swanberg’s compelling portrayals help make The Sacrament West’s most briskly paced to date. Gene Jones as Father has created one of the most magnetic and original antagonists to ever grace the big screen. From the very first frame he appears, you’re instantly taken aback by his undeniable presence. I liked how West paints just a portrait of the man. He understands that the less we know about Father, the more intimidating he becomes. His introduction or as I’d like to refer it as the “interview” scene is chilling to the core. It’s that pivotal moment in the film in which West establishes that sense of dread and for the remainder of the film, methodically keeps turning it up. The atmosphere is downright suffocating. Jones’s performance will most likely be the finest we’ll see from the genre this year. I also appreciated Tyler Bates’ score. I loved how his quietly menacing music is juxtapositioned against tranquil imagery of the “harmless” community. Bates creates a sense of unease long before West starts to crank up the heat in the disturbing third act.
The Sacrament might very well be West’s finest work to date. While the third act is drawn out a little longer than it probably should, it doesn’t take away from the powerful finale. The violence in the film feels all too real. It might disappoint genre fans expecting something more gruesome but that’s not what West is shooting for. The Sacrament is more of a psychological thriller than anything else. The only thing that really associates it with horror is the genuinely frightening situation our protagonists find themselves in. This is real life horror with an antagonist more monstrous than any made up one. This is a figure right out of the headlines. The Sacrament crawls under your skin and stays there long after it’s over.
One of the most celebrated films out of the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival is Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, a follow-up Giallo film to their gorgeous Amer that also taps into the classic Italian subgenre. In fact, the duo explain that the two films are like brother and sister. In the following interview, they’ll explain to you how…
Now playing at various festivals, including TIFF, here’s the plot of Strange Colour, starring : “A woman vanishes. Her husband inquires into the strange circumstances of her disappearance. Did she leave him? Is she dead? As he goes along searching, he plunges into a world of nightmare and violence…” READ MORE
High Tension director Alex Aja returned to horror greatness with Horns, which just world premiered at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival. Bloody Disgusting’s Mike Pereira was a huge fan – read his review here – calling it “an audacious, wonderfully twisted romantic horror fantasy.”
Collider scored the first ever clip as an exclusive, and it features Daniel Radcliffe as a young man who awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples. The footage actually tells us nothing new about the movie, and isn’t all that interesting – honestly, I don’t even understand why they released it. Still, it’s fun to see Radcliffe rockin’ those sweet horns.
Max Minghella, Juno Temple, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner and James Remar also star in the film still seeking U.S. distribution. READ MORE